Do you understand and obey?

March 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people!
(Hebrews 8:10 (NLT))

I love the way the New Living Translation phrases this passage.

We are used to reading it translated something like the following.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people
(Hebrews 8:10 (NIV)

No matter how we are used to reading it, the meaning should not be lost on the reader. We are to think about God’s laws and reflect on their meaning. We are to strive to understand them with our intellect. We are to reflect upon what God is telling us with each passage that we read and not just simply read the words. There is more meaning in God’s Word than mere words. There is a reason that it is called the Living Word. If we study and reflect upon it, then God will use this reflection and study to teach us more about Himself. He will open up the same passage with more meaning as our maturity in Him increases. As our maturity increases through study, another aspect comes into play.

God’s Word makes the move from our minds to our hearts.

We begin to not only understand, we also begin to obey. We find ourselves longing to do the things that God wants. We find ourselves not only intellectually understanding. We find ourselves transformed by that understanding to the point where we actually apply it to our lives. We obey not out of fear, but out of a desire to seek righteousness.

Do you have a favorite translation that you read and study? For me, my favorite is the New International Version, but I find hidden gems of truth in every translation. Some translations, such as the New Living Translation, add wording that does not go against the intent or change the context, but it expands on the meaning and adds insight. I don’t know how many times that I have read Hebrews 8:10, and I know the intent of the words, but sometimes I need to be hit right between the eyes with what God is saying. I would venture to say that I am not alone in this. Sometimes we all need to be hit over the head with the proverbial 2×4 so that we recognize the truth behind what we profess to believe.

Do you understand and obey?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have a daily time to spend with God?

February 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

As I sit here exhausted, I realize just how easy it is to become so engrossed in the things of the world that we call our lives. It is so easy to let God slip to a second, third or even a fourth priority. The sad part about this when it happens is that we don’t realize that it is happening until it has already happened.

We need to establish something that becomes a constant in our lives. Something that we do on a daily basis that forces us to be still in the presence of God. This must be something that we do no matter whether we want to or not, no matter whether we feel that we can take a day off because no one will notice.

If you are reading this, then you are a part of my daily routine. I know that to many people the word routine signifies that you do something over and over again and get stuck in a rut. When you are studying and sharing God’s Word, you may be in a routine, but it is never a rut.

God’s Word is alive!

God shares His heart through His Word.

The trick is to be open and to not take things out of context. You must dive deep and explore the mysteries that God has in store for you. The Bible is called the Living Word for a reason. No matter where you are in your walk with God, there is something for you to learn. What I find so intriguing is that you can learn something from one passage and as you mature, you can learn something different from the same passage. This knowledge does not replace what you have learned before. It expands, it builds upon the previous knowledge to give you a deeper understanding.

I have been writing and sharing these devotionals since 1998. It is my routine. It is not my rut. I learn so much as I explore God’s Word and share it with you. It is my daily time to be still in the presence of God.

It is my prayer that each of you develop a routine in which you set aside time each day to spend in God’s presence.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you living according to God’s Word or man’s?

March 6, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

They searched the Scriptures day by day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really telling the truth.
(Acts 17:11 (NLT))

I am sitting here with mixed emotions. I am amazed at what just transpired in my study and writing and yet, I am saddened by what I was given, for I was given the following question.

Are you living according to God’s Word or man’s?

I then went to my database of scripture verses and this one from Acts came up. The following verse also came up.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do we spend enough time studying God’s Word so that we can know when something is true? Do we earnestly search the Scriptures or do we simply rely on other people to tell us what God’s Word says?

We are each responsible for our own faith. We are each responsible for our own study. We are each responsible for our own relationship with God and our personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We cannot claim salvation based on what our parents did. We cannot claim salvation based on who our pastor is? We cannot claim salvation based on how much we give.

We can only claim salvation by professing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. We can only claim salvation when we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord over our lives. We must reject the world that rejected Him!

Jesus is the Word made flesh. In order to fully know Him, we must fully know God’s Word. Can you have a relationship by proxy? Can you claim an intimacy with someone when you only listen to someone talk about them for an hour a week? It takes a commitment. It takes searching and studying the Scriptures. It takes time spent in prayer. It takes time spent reflecting upon God’s Word.

How can we claim to be followers of Jesus when far too many of us don’t even spend the time to get to know Him?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Expect the unexpectable!

July 8, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
(Luke 17:5-6 (NIV))

How would you have felt if Jesus told you to increase your faith, and then proceeded to tell you that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, God can do things through you? In other words, would you have perceived this as an insult or would you have taken it as instruction to see beyond the physical and expect things in the spiritual?

I have read this passage many times, but this evening, human nature saw something that it hadn’t allowed me to see before. I saw the potential for a wrong perception in these words. I seriously doubt that Jesus was hurling an insult at His disciples, after all, that would be a sin. However, it is interesting how human nature can read something and see the wrong message in it. Even though Jesus was telling His disciples, who were still infants in the faith, to increase their faith, He was not being degrading. He was telling them what they could expect if they did increase their faith. Perhaps it was their willingness to increase that allowed Jesus to increase it exponentially. Take a look at the miracles that His disciples were a part of after His resurrection.

Don’t allow the enemy to twist God’s Word. A simple passage can have many meaning, but make sure that the meaning you receive is of God. Test it to make sure that it follows the principles and teachings that God has already set forth. He cannot contradict Himself. Prepare yourself through study and prayer so that when you do see things from a “human” perspective, you are able to recognize them as just that. Do not allow your perceptions to cloud what God is really saying. Increase your knowledge and increase your faith. The more that you know about God and His Son, the more that you expect God to do great things.

Nurture your faith and allow it to grow into that mustard seed. Expect the unexpectable!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God looks at the heart!

March 25, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 (NIV))

What makes a person an expert?

An expert is someone who has skill or knowledge in an area. In other words, they study or practice a subject until they can slice it and dice it in ways that were probably never intended to happen.

Think about this for a moment and then think about what it means to follow the letter of the law.

Following the letter of the law means that you are more concerned with being legalistic and doing what the law says to do to the very last detail. You become more concerned with following the checklist of things that you think the law asks of you to the point that you don’t really understand what the law was created to do.

What do you think of speed limits?

What is the purpose of a speed limit? What is the intent?

First and foremost, the speed laws were intended to provide a level of safety to those who are traveling and to those whom they encounter. As a typical driver, I can honestly say that the last thing on my mind is the intent of these laws when I look in my rearview mirror and see a police car. My first response is one that everyone has. Make sure that I am not doing something wrong because I don’t want a ticket.

What does this have to do with the intent of the speed laws?

Now, think about the spiritual laws that we have been given. Think about the laws that God has given us through His Word. We must be very careful not to end up trying to obey the letter of the law and miss out on the intent of the law.

God gave us life. He gave us His Word and His Laws. He also gave us grace. He knew that we are prone to focus on the wrong things. He knew that what was the most important thing to understand would be relegated to a minor status once we got our hands upon it.

How many times have you seen someone miss out on a blessing because they were focusing on the wrong things. Don’t get bogged down in the details to such a point that you don’t understand the intent.

God intends for us to have abundant life through the grace offered at the cross. Don’t lose sight of the gift because you are trying to understand the details.

God looks at the heart!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we listening?

September 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:22 (NIV))

With all that is going on in the world, what is the Spirit saying to the churches?

Are we listening?

Do we have an ear tuned to the Holy Spirit?

Or are we still focused on the things that center around our own little corner of the world? Do we, as the Body of Christ, even acknowledge the ramifications of what we are seeing unfold right before our eyes?

Some people say that prophecy and the Book of Revelations is difficult to understand. What about the Book of Daniel? It echoes many of the same things as Revelations. With this in mind, have we, as the Body of Christ, forsaken God’s Word with respect to what is to come? We read it and claim that we understand what has transpired. We pray that He will work in our personal lives, yet do we truly see and understand what God may be doing with the big picture?

We are supposed to!

We are supposed to be prepared!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

How can we be prepared and understand when we focus on the easier teachings and ignore what may be right in front of us.

I do not profess to know what God is up to, yet, we have been instructed to know the season by the signs that Jesus laid out.

Do you know the signs of the season?

Do you know what to look for?

Do you know what to pray for?

It is my prayer, no matter what the season, that each of us will develop an ear to hear the Holy Spirit. You might be surprised at what He is trying to tell us.

He who has an ear . . .

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your mind treasure?

April 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV))

If you constantly talk about something, what will you constantly think about?

If you constantly think about something, how will your actions be effected?

I don’t know about you, but I believe that God had a purpose to this verse. He created us. He knows that we are wired to act out what we think about. If we think about money, we become greedy. If we think about power, we become obsessed with it. If we think about righteousness, then our actions will start to become righteous.

In helping my children study, I have a saying that they are probably tired of hearing. I tell them that they must repeat what they are trying to learn until it becomes ingrained within their minds and they can answer without thinking. It becomes a part of them. This is what God is telling us to do. We are to reflect upon His commandments until we know them so well that we do them out of knowledge and love.

What is the one thing that you know so well that you can quote details to anybody who asks, and possibly to those who don’t even ask? How did you get to be so knowledgeable about that subject? What if you applied the same earnestness toward God’s commandments? What would the outcome be? What would your life be like? What would other people say about you? What would God say about you?

What is constantly on your mind? What does your mind treasure? Is it God’s commandments?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Think about them?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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